The Riddle of the Sands


'WAKE up!' I rubbed my eyes and wondered where I was…

stretched myself painfully, too, for even the cushions had not given me a true bed of roses.

It was dusk, and the yacht was stationary in glassy water, coloured by the last after-glow. A roofing of thin upper-cloud had spread over most of the sky, and a subtle smell of rain was in the air. We seemed to be in the middle of the fiord, whose shores looked distant and steep in the gathering darkness. Close ahead they faded away suddenly, and the sight lost itself in a grey void. The stillness was absolute. 'We can't get to Sonderburg to-night,' said Davies.

'What's to be done then?' I asked, collecting my senses. 'Oh! we'll anchor anywhere here, we're just at the mouth of the fiord; I'll tow her inshore if you'll steer in that direction.' He pointed vaguely at a blur of trees and cliff. Then he jumped into the dinghy, cast off the painter, and, after snatching at the slack of a rope, began towing the reluctant yacht by short jerks of the sculls.

The menacing aspect of that grey void, combined with a natural preference for getting to some definite place at night, combined to depress my spirits afresh.

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